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Grady Stiles II (aka "The Lobster Boy") was born in Pittsburgh, USA in 1937. Like many other members of his family, his hands and legs were genetically fused to form lobster-like pincers. The genetic deformity has a 50% chance of passing on to future generations. He was raised as a 'freak', travelling around the United States in some of the biggest travelling carnivals from the 1940s through until the 1980s.

During his life he married a woman named Mary and had four children. When one of his daughters tried to elope with a boyfriend of whom he did not approve, Grady shot him dead at point blank range. Amazingly, the courts did not jail him for committing this murder, so for the rest of his life the Lobster Boy physically abused his family. He would tell them "I killed once and got away with it. I can do it again". He abused his wife the most frequently and harshly. He made a habit of smacking her face, head-butting her mouth, and sexually abusing her with a blackjack. In 1992, his wife hired a teen-age neighbor $1500 to kill him. The neighbor shot 55-year-old Grady in the back of the head as he sat in his mobile home, watching television in his underwear.

His son, Grady Stiles III, briefly followed in his father's footsteps as a carnival sideshow performer, but traded that in to work as a night manager for a Long John Silver's.

Endearing nickname given to William Kofmehl III, currently a fifth-year senior in fine arts at Carnegie Mellon University. For the duration of the spring 2002 semester (until May 2002) Kofmehl will be living in a two-and-a-half-story house near the base of Doherty Hall on campus wearing a lobster costume designed by his mother while Kofmehl was in the third grade. The house is made of scrap wood from ongoing construction at Doherty Hall, and includes an "umbilical cord" which will be tethered to its inhabitant at all times to ensure that he does not leave.

Except during a brief scuffle with several fraternity brothers who forcibly entered the house, Kofmehl has not spoken English but rather developed a distinctive language of tones and other sounds. Two of his friends act as interpreters. During daytime hours, the house welcomes visitors, including journalists from The Pitt News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- both of which have provided far more information and insight than Carnegie Mellon's own The Tartan.

Because Kofmehl is a Fifth-Year Scholar, his tuition is being paid for by the university. He has also received a $1,000 Small Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG) to help in the construction and furnishing of his house. Many people, including people posting comments to the Pitt News's web site, have questioned whether this is an appropriate use of university funding. Regardless, the whole situation has been a curious PR issue for Carnegie Mellon and its College of Fine Arts (CFA). The makeshift house is located in a very secluded corner of campus, so visiting dignitaries cannot see it easily.

Kofmehl's project crosses the boundaries between research and performance art, in a way that is simultaneously thought-provoking and offensive to some. At least, that's what my barber told me as he cut my hair today.

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